coffee tyme
Steam Powered Studio is an audio workshop in South-central PA,
featuring contributions from fine local artists.
Many of these projects have been funded by fine people like you!
The Stray Birds

The Borderland EP began as demos for Maya DeVitry to take with her to school. It grew into something special.

Listen to
I'm the guy with the hammer and tongs-

Jeff Coleman
Jeff Coleman

-trying to make stuff in the workshop.

Check me out on iTunes!
This started out when I got curious how many bands there were around here. Click the map below to see the amazing, growing list of locals.

local area

Then click through to visit their websites...
the Sporting Hill Ramblers

I feel privileged to be a member of the Sporting Hill Ramblers, purveyers of fine

News and schedule at the link.
Studio Blog
Dr. Mo was one of the first to contribute to this site.

Dr Mo

His latest project is a group of songs about the real America.

She came here with a song in her heart. It took a while, but we pried it loose.

Linzi wants to be
The Last Girl

Willie Marble

Willie Marble is back again, with Songs in the Key of Marble. He brought a lot of players and singers with him this time, including a full chorus!
Mr. Bobby and I started posting songs to the internet back when being folkie wasn't cool.

Robert Bobby

It's Not the Heat
that's gettin' to me...
April 29, 2013

It's a rainy day. Time for a rant.

The associations we make between things are important. Computer geeks struggle to associate icons with functions in what is called the user interface. They struggle because people have different ideas about what things mean, and because they are looking at the problem from the machine's point of view. They know how the thing actually works and would be perfectly happy entering commands as text to make it run. Sometimes it's hard to find a simple icon to associate with a computer function.

But sometimes they just flat out get it wrong- for example, the search icon. icons

Now, who searches for things using a magnifying glass? Sherlock Holmes? Good, at least he'll get the connection. (but then again, he's such a super sleuth that he'd probably deduce its function anyway) For most of the rest of us a magnifying glass makes things look bigger. You'd have to be some kind of an idiot (or a programmer) to connect the image of a magnifying glass with the search function in your program. Especially when you then use the very same icon to represent the magnify page function. Well, which is it?

Slightly better- the last icon, which I suppose represents a pair of binoculars. Without too much of a stretch we can associate a pair of binoculars with search and rescue, which at least has the word search in it.

Another icon sometimes used is the flashlight, which I can associate with searching for missing pets at night- better than a magnifying glass, anyway, unless you've got pet fleas. There's a nice post about the history of the "search" or "find" icons here. Be sure to check out this incomprehensible icon used by NeXT Workspace Manager!

NeXT search icon

What is that, search for your ancestral coat of arms?

Sadly, there is probably no simple iconic representation for our real-world process of searching, which for most of us consists of tossing things around the room, digging through piles of stuff, and wandering aimlessly looking in corners... but one thing "searching" isn't is looking for clues.
April 21, 2013

Whether it's cold or whether it's hot, we're going to have weather, whether or not.

Most mornings lately I've been switching on the Weatherscan channel to monitor the temperature. I've been working outside, and there's a limit to how willing I am to work in the cold. Depending on how much heat whatever I plan to be doing will generate. It's a complicated formula, and then of course, the wind speed is also a factor...

So I just let the station play while I'm fixing breakfast, whatever. Now, there's music playing on that channel, and I began to recognize some of the pieces after a while. They mostly have that muzak characteristic of being basically indistinguishable, but of course, I'm curious as to how they're put together. One or two of the pieces are actually interesting, in a strange sort of way. The melodies sound like they come from Mars or someplace similar...

So I searched for the stuff, and sure enough, someone has kindly recorded 33 of these pieces and posted them on YouTube. They've even gone so far as to eliminate the announcements (such as "your local radar") so you can appreciate the songs in their glory. Also, links to downloads.

Originally I thought I might write and record some stuff in this style, but you know what? It would be hard to make something this seamlessly bland, yet music-like. The playing and recording quality is really very good. And when you're done? You'd be about the only one who would understand why you did it.


Well, of course... Here's Partial Eclipse, by the Stokers.

What makes it so easy to do is the Yamaha PSR E413, with its plethora of automatic functions...

weather maker

April 20, 2013

I've re-recorded one of the songs I wrote back in the nineties- Keeping Time. The new/old Gibson sounds great on it, with a capo on the 4th fret. It's fingerpicked, and if nothing else it's worth playing every so often so I don't forget the pattern.

It's one of my "dark" songs. I'm not sure I agree with that assessment, but that's what I am told, and people know what they know, so I guess it is. The song is about memory, about holding on to a powerful feeling, one that is associated with a specific sound. Here's the lyric- pretty minimal:

That thief, forgetfullness
Sometimes a blessing, sometimes less
Each second has a price
Another small dose of poison, and something dies
If it were mine to chose
One moment not to lose
Up in a stormy sky
There was rain against a window, keeping time

Now that time has passed I can see that the song itself retains the feeling, even if it's faded for me personally. That just might be the point of songs, innit?

Thanks back to you, Stray Birds, for remembering Steam Powered in your interview with Art from the live at the Wagon Shed recording that played this week on the WPSU folk show, and thanks to Steve for letting me know about it.

April 15, 2013

The future, now.

What sort of chance does a regional classical radio program have when, via the net, I can tune into Radio 3 whenever I want to hear some classical music? It's so fine, Rikky!

It follows that- what sort of chance does a local musician have when I can tune in to anyone in the world, whenever I want?

As a local musician, I obviously need to find an answer for this...

April 12, 2013

Music blogs. I believe I found that there were something over a billion hits in a Google of that phrase. Now I'm reading them.

Well, you can't just start reading that many blogs, you've got to have a plan, a system. I started a spreadsheet.

If anyone wants to help out, I'll send you a copy and we can work on this. I want to find music blogs that:

1. Are written by real people, not corporations.

2. Have more regular readers than this website right here.

3. Actually link to good stuff.

And then I will submit some of our music for review!
April 11, 2013


It was a long, long time ago. Murmur apparently came out on this date. I saw this on a music blog, where someone was writing about how the mumbling and obscure lyrics made this one of REM's worst records.

Having been there at the time, I guarantee you that vocals weren't an issue. Fact is that had there been any obvious meaning it would have been a distraction. Few records can match it for just sounding great. I suppose there must be some political or theory analysis for it, and I'm sure Stipe took himself seriously then (and now), but that wasn't what drew us in. It was the sound of it.

And then the whole thing became an industry. I followed up tonight, listening to a record that the blogger considered their finest, Monster. By the time Monster came out, after their really big commercial stuff, I had stopped paying attention to their records. Why bother? Their sound was everywhere for free, urging you to consume... I did like What's the Frequency, Kenneth?, and now, listening to Monster, I can see the appeal of that record. It has some great guitar noises on it.

But then, watching videos from Monster, and how the camera caressed the emblematic Ampeg amplifiers and Rickenbaker guitars, I realise I just did the same thing with my last post. We grab images (such as iconic album covers) and use them to indicate feelings- shortcuts for a thousand words, brands. I used an image of an antique effects unit, REM used pictures of amps, wolves.

The main thing about Murmur was that I don't think anyone had managed to use words like two headed cow in a rock song before. That's what hooked me then, and now...
April 09, 2013

prime time

This old thing went south some years ago. Everything was functional, but the delay sound was crappy. On a whim I dug in and tried the old trick of re-seating the ICs. I think I had tried this before, but you never know...

I removed two daughterboards and popped out and popped back in three ICs and then gave it a whirl, whaddyaknow, that fixed it.

It's a Lexicon Prime Time, one of the earliest quality digital delay units. It's capable of some pretty long delays (although at a reduced frequency range), but the really nifty thing is that there are two taps on the delay line, and the delay time can be modulated by an on-board low frequency oscillator. This can lead to some pretty weird effects, but also some subtle fattening up things useful for guitars and such... Can't wait to use it again!
April 08, 2013

Thanks, My Rural Radio for adding my stuff. I feel I'm in good company...

April 04, 2013

6 track

I have heard of three track recorders. In fact, some of the very best hi-fi records have been made on 3 track recorders. Coltrane I believe, at the 5 Spot or some such thing, 1963...

But I never heard of a 6 track recorder until tonight. I don't think the Trane recorded into one, but maybe somebody just as interesting has done. Thanks, Joe, for bringing this over...

April 02, 2013


J. C. Leyendecker was the original Norman Rockwell. He "invented" the image of the new year as a baby for a magazine cover back in 1908, among other things...

The Cupid in a Cage for Easter thing didn't catch on for some reason, but I sort of like it.
Joe Ellis

Without a doubt, Joe Ellis has provided some of our most rewarding moments.

And we just
Slough it Off.

Who are these loonies anyway?

Woggi Noggi

Why, it's those cute lil' Woggi Noggi girls!

Find out why
Goats are Great!

Summer Thieves

I see the boys of Summer Thieves in their ruin. (that's poetry, you kneau)

Here's their song
You Can't Lie.

There's memes for everything that wingers love.
end gun violence

I made some to post if you're not crazy about guns.
and also...
Mission Statement:

Only pretentious asshats post mission statements on their websites. Be that as it may, I do have a mission here, and that is to discover if there's a better way to make a living making music than by selling little round pieces of plastic. Or charging big money for recording.

I'm looking for a bunch of small-scale sponsors willing to support my work as a musician, singer/songwriter and recording engineer, work that often includes recording up and coming artists for free.

If you like what you hear, and want to keep me going in the future, please sponsor the studio. It's that simple.
I got on a kick of making videos for a while. Here's one now-

Jeff Coleman
Save to Serve Her

It's a song about drinking...

...from a bitter cup.
Jeff Coleman
48 eagles

This is one of my art pieces. Heh.

But seriously, ever notice how may eagle n' flag things there are?

It's an entire industry unto itself I bet.
There really is a history to this website. It started out with, then moved to onlinerock before I figured out how to just rent my own space.

One of Lancaster county's first punk/new wave bands
the Blame
the Blame had a good run back in the last century. Here's some of that for those who remember...

The Kids are Alright (live)
For Hire:
Yes, the studio is for hire. We will record your song, your CD, your steam whistle or your grandmother. Rates on request, generally vary reasonably.

Room and Equipment:
1,000 sq ft open space with way too many guitar amps and old keyboards, some drums and percussion, some interesting mics, a comfy couch.

It's all about relaxing and making good music. I sweat the tech stuff so you don't have to. We can get just about any kind of session player you need.

These gentlemen have recorded here-

The Gadjo Playboys
The Gadjo Playboys

We've done about 2 1/2 CDs worth of stuff.

Some of it is still unreleased!
Jenny's Diner
Jen and Charlie

Jen Starsinic went on to collect a songwriting award the year we recorded this.

Birdy in a Cage

Charlie Muench went on to join the Stray Birds.
Craig Wise is one of those good old boys.
He brought a lot of his friends in here.

Craig Wise

And they're

Still Makin' Sunshine

All the Marbles was the first Willie Marble CD.

Commit a Crime

We sure had some good times down in the basement working on this one.

There was a bunch of kids making interesting music...

Old Time Liberation Front
The Old Time Liberation Front

Feeder Mice Jig

Most of them still are...

Kenny was one hell of a songwriter. Back in Paradise, way last century, I managed to get a few of his songs recorded.

The Taking

Kenny Gross
Kenny Gross

A lot of music gets made here by a mixed crew known as-

The Stokers
The Stokers

You never know what to expect!

The Wreck of the Frisco Pier
Dark 30
This band had a good run, and made some good recordings in my tiny studio in Paradise.

Toward the Light

Listen to Bob and that Funky Snakefoot hook into the bottom!
Liv Pooleside has a blog-

studio blog
Steam Powered Studio

It features even more babbling about a wider variety of stuff.

You can leave comments there...

Night Wolf
Night Wolf

He's gone on to the other shore, but he left a couple of songs with us.

Walkin' Blues

Young Fashioned Ways

A guy came in with a couple of old reel-to-reel tapes his dad made in the '70's.
Ron Cook
Ronnie Cook

Dad played a 5 string electric fiddle. One of the tapes was a make-believe radio show.
Dave Francis has had some awesome jam sessions at his place. I recorded the Honeycut Brothers (and others) live.
9 lb Hammer

Foggy Mt. Breakdown

Stable Jam
Stable Jam

Olds Sleeper

Olds Sleeper has created a whole lot of good music in the wee small hours. I got to work with him on a few tunes at my old place.

Olds #3

Me and Ben recorded Blind Joe Death in a round building at a scout camp.

live at the round house

You Got to Love Somebody

Made a pretty good CD-
Live at the Roundhouse
Old Ezra Shade gets in here every so often.

Ezra Shade

Here's a little something seasonal...

Christmas Time
Dr Mo
Dr. Mo

We have stuff here going back years...

Junko Partner

...and new stuff in the works.
One of his recent songs has been animated by Brian McCall.